Canada is extending its immigration policy to admit a bigger number of new permanent residents, which implies that there will be more options for international students to stay in the country after graduating from Canadian higher education institutions.
Consequently, the Canadian government plans to welcome 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023, and 451,000 in 2024, as described in the 20222024 Immigration Levels Plan. These are the most aggressive immigration targets ever set for Canada.
More than 405,000 people from all around the world will become permanent citizens in 2021, the most ever welcomed in a single year in Canadian history. Increased caps in the “Federal High Skilled” category, which accepts applications from international graduates of Canadian schools, will substantially drive the expected rise.
The number of available spaces in that category will rise from 55,900 this year to 111,500 in 2024. For overseas graduates, the immigration streams that will contribute to the expansion are already in place: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class.
The new immigration targets are based on two key priorities:
(1) attracting the most talented students and workers to the Canadian labour market; and
(2) to assist refugees (particularly those from Afghanistan) in finding a new, safer home in Canada.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser explained in a statement:
“This levels plan is a balance of needs for our country and our international obligations. It focuses on attracting skilled workers who will contribute to Canada’s economy and tackle the labour shortage while recognizing the importance of family reunification, and helping the world’s most vulnerable populations through refugee resettlement. Our focus remains on supporting our economic resurgence through increased retention of newcomers in regions with real economic, labour, and demographic challenges. I’m proud of what Canada has achieved thus far, and I want wait to see how newcomers will continue to make Canada a top destination of choice.”
Immigration is critical to Canada’s economic development. According to the Government of Canada, immigration already accounts for nearly 100% of labour force growth, and with 5 million Canadians due to retire by the end of this decade, the worker-to-retiree proportion will decrease to barely 3:1.
This is a clear indication that there is a significant economic demand for additional immigration. Last year, the government introduced a new immigration stream aimed primarily at international students and workers with experience in industries where labour market skills deficits exist.
Former Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Marco Mendicino stated in announcing the new Temporary to Permanent Residence Stream (TR2PR):
“The pandemic has shone a bright light on the incredible contributions of newcomers. These new policies will help those with temporary status to plan their future in Canada, play a key role in our economic recovery and help us build back better. Our message to them is simple: your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting—and we want you to stay.”
More than half of new permanent residents will come from the main pathways utilized by international students to become permanent residents of Canada. At the moment, Canadian immigration officials have reduced some of the Express Entry spaces to make room in the TR2PR stream. This is an important development for prospective international students deciding what to study in Canada, as the TR2PR stream is specifically focused on certain sectors and occupations.
The Provincial Nominee Program, which allows provinces to invite international students to immigrate, will expand from 83,500 slots in 2022 to 93,000 spaces in 2024.
The Canadian government has spent $85 million to reduce application backlogs and support a variety of other enhancements aimed at “establishing the predictable processing timeframes that our clients expect and deserve.” The government plans to make 147,000 permanent resident final decisions in the first quarter of 2022, more than double what was done in the same period last year, using a range of modernization projects that include online application platforms and enhanced data analytics.
According to Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), colleges are well-positioned to assist overseas students in becoming valuable contributors to the Canadian economy:
“They serve as a one-stop-shop for skilled newcomers looking to quickly integrate into the labour market and provide critical support, including language training, employment services, and connections to community employers. They also offer specialized academic upgrading programs to international and newcomer students, and a variety of reskilling and upskilling options tailored to their local employment market.”
IRCC reported more than 730,000 additional student permit applications through August 2021 in late-2021, a nearly 27 per cent increase over the same period in 2019. The increase in 2021 application volumes mirrors recent enrolling trends.
Approximately 22% of all applications for 2021 have come from Indian students, with other significant pre-pandemic growth areas such as Bangladesh, Colombia, Iran, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Vietnam all showing renewed strength.
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